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Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011 Jan;137(1):47-53. doi: 10.1001/archoto.2010.235.

Congenital cytomegalovirus infection in pediatric hearing loss.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, 98195, USA.



To compare the prevalence of congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in Washington State in children with hearing loss (HL) and the general population and to compare the characteristics of HL in children with and without congenital CMV infection.


Matched case-control; case cohort.


Regional pediatric hospital, Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH).


Cases were children 4 years and older with HL born in Washington State. Control individuals matched for demographic characteristics were identified at random through the WSDOH.


Congenital CMV status determined using quantitative polymerase chain reaction testing on newborn heel stick blood spots archived by the WSDOH. Audiologic data were used to characterize HL.


Congenital CMV testing was performed for 222 matched cases and controls. Congenital CMV infection was detected in 1.4% of controls and in 9.9% of cases (odds ratio, 10.5; 95% confidence interval, 2.6-92.4). An estimated 8.9% of HL in children in Washington can be attributed to CMV infection. After inclusion of an additional 132 children with HL (for a total of 354 cases in the case cohort), we observed that children with congenital CMV had more severe HL (P < .001) and higher proportions of progressive (P = .02) and unilateral (P = .002) HL compared with children without congenital CMV infection. In the 35 children with congenital CMV infection, there was no relationship between neonatal CMV load and severity of HL.


In Washington State, children with HL had a far higher prevalence of congenital CMV viremia than did the general pediatric population, and CMV infection seems to be responsible for an appreciable fraction of pediatric HL in Washington State.

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